Sacred-Texts Asia
Index Previous Next

20. (The Man who visited the Polar Bears.)

 Once (there were) two Polar-Bear women, They landed (on shore. They were) very pretty. On the land a man saw them. He married one, and took her home and anointed her.1 The man walked around all the time, and brought home wild reindeer. The Polar-Bear woman soon brought forth two boys.

 During one of the usual walks of the man, the brothers came to the shore, — the Polar Bears. They wanted to take her away to their home. The woman obeyed. She said, "I will only put the children into my ear." They went away to the country of the Polar Bears.

 The man came home, [the husband], but the wife was not there. He questioned his mother, and said, "Where is the woman?" — "Her brothers long ago carried away that Polar-Bear woman." He said to his mother, "Make some (new) boots for me." He himself worked and made a bow and arrows. The mother made boots for him.

 Oh, she finished (them). Then he departed. He shot (an arrow) towards the open (sea), and land was created. This was the path of his arrow. When this land had been gone through and the boots worn out, he threw away the boots and shot again. Again (a strip) p. 113 of land was created in the same direction.

 He put on other boots and departed again. The strip of land came to an end. He again threw away his boots, put on other boots, shot (an arrow), and a new strip of land was created. Only one arrow remained (in his possession). Again (the land) came to an end, a shore appeared. He shot again. No arrows were left, but he passed the night on the confines of a settlement.

 The next morning he saw children walking along in the open. (These were his sons.) They grew up very fast. He asked them, "Have you a father?" — "We have not. (Our) uncles brought us here." — "Who is your mother?" — "She is a Polar-Bear woman." Then he told them, "You are children of mine."

 The children went home, and said to their mother, "Our father has come." — "Where can he have come from? What kind of a father? It is far. How could he do it? He lives on the other side of the sea. There, let me go and have a look myself." She went to him and saw him. She said to him, "What do you want? Two Koča´tkɵ1 monsters we have for neighbors. They will kill you." He said, "Have I come for life? I came for death."

 [The set of] her brothers had gone to sea to seek game, — [the set of] those Polar Bears. Then he entered. The brothers came back, and all at once said, "Oh, oh, our house smells (of something) bad. What have you p. 114 brought in? The house smells of something from the mainland!"

 The wife said, "What smell can that be! It is only my husband who has come." Then the brothers said, "Oh, why did you not say that long ago? Gracious! we have frightened him."

 All at once the father-in-law said, "Oh, to-morrow morning the Koča´tkɵt will arrange for some game with you, and they will kill you." The Koča´tkɵt, indeed, very soon were heard (to exclaim), "Oh, let us arrange some game for our guest!"

 Oh, the father-in-law said, "Let all the people slide down hill!" Their sliding-place was surrounded by water. They would dive into it and enter the water. From there they would bring back large round bowlders.

 He said, "I cannot dive." The father-in-law said, "You must use my mittens and all my clothes. As soon as you are submerged, a large bowlder will be there under the water. This (one) you must throw up the shore."

 He threw the bowlder, and it landed far inland. Then the father-in-law called aloud, "Oh, oh, the mainland man! He is not to be vanquished, after all!" Then again the Koča´tkɵ said, "Oh, well! let us have a wrestling-match!" The father-in-law said, "Oh, now what can I do for you? You must think of it yourself. This time he is going to kill you. In truth, how (strong) are you [yourself]?" — "In truth, till now I was (considered) a fairly good one."

 (The man) made a spear. Then the Koča´tkɵ attacked him. (The man) fought with the spear, and tired (the p. 115 monster-beast) out. Then he struck at his mouth with the spear. The blood (flowed). After that he cut all the tendons on his legs, and so made him incapable of standing up. Again the father-in-law called aloud, "Oh, oh! our guest is not to be vanquished!"

 He slew (the Koča´tkɵ). The father-in-law said, "Indeed, take your wife home!" He put on the clothes of his father-in-law. Four of the family, his brothers-in-law, went with him to bring the brother-in-law home. They landed (on the shore). The people immediately wanted to attack the Polar Bears. The man put aside the hood (of his clothing). It was the forehead-skin of the polar bear. He pushed it off thus. Till then they were attacking them.

 The man said, "Oh, we have arrived!" Then the others said, "Oh, (we have) nearly (killed you)!" The brothers-in-law were much frightened. They arrived at his house. But the brothers-in-law refused to enter because of the smell. Oh, they went home, they departed. These (here, the Bears) came to their house. The father died, the sons wandered to another country. The people saw them and killed them all.

 This brother-in-law heard of this, made a war-expedition (against those people), and slew them all. After this slaying he ascended to heaven. He lived with the Morning-Dawn. When he had staid there for some time, his family promised in sacrifice a white-haired dog. This (dog) his family promised to the Morning-Dawn.

 In a short time the dog came there. It was breathless, Morning-Dawn said p. 116 to the man, "Oh, this is your dog, which comes to look for you, sent by your family!" He opened a trunk, and said to him, "There, see your (own) people!"

 And there was that people quite near [vertically] (under them). And all at once tears came (to his eyes), and he cried. Immediately it rained there, from these tears of his. Morning-Dawn said to the man, "There, wipe off your tears! That is enough."

 He brushed away the tears. Then the rain ceased. He also saw his herd. (Morning-Dawn said to him, "A barren doe you must give me when you reach home. I have a desire for it. And when you get back, do not enter (your house) at once. First anoint yourself with (pulverized) stone. When that is done, give me the barren doe."

 Then he got back, rubbed some stone, anointed himself. Then he slaughtered the barren doe, offered it as a sacrifice. He entered the house, slept (through) the night, and then turned into a woman. He looked for his penis. "Gracious! indeed, I am a man!" It had turned into a vulva.

 He had (a suit of) armor in a pile of his goods. He said, "Well, then, I have (a suit of) armor." He took it out. But it turned into female attire, into a woman's overcoat. A man from the (Upper) Beings came to woo him. He said to him, "What do you want?" The one (who had) turned into a woman asked him this. He spoke thus: "I came as a suitor (for your hand)." — "I am not a woman, I am a man."

 The suitor said to him, "Indeed, you are a woman. For that very reason I have come to you." He said, "Now, p. 117 here! See my spear!" He looked at it. It turned into a needle-case. He copulated with (this one). (The visitor) took his wife home [and brought her there]. His herd was very large. He took a barren doe and anointed her [with it], but the blood did not adhere. He took a castrated buck and anointed her, but the blood was too slippery. He took another reindeer, but its blood was also bad. (He took) an old doe, its blood was bad. He took a doe three years old, its blood was bad. He took a doe two years old, its blood was bad. He took a buck three years old, its blood was like water. He took a buck two years old, its blood was bad.

 He took a small lean fawn, its blood was good. He anointed her. They slept again. As soon as she looked at her husband, on awaking, she saw that it was a stone pillar.1 She said, "Who has made such a laughing-stock of me? Probably human people (shamans)." Then she cried.

 The Zenith visited her. (He asked,) "Why are you crying?" — "Some mischievous beings have acted thus towards me." — "There. I will take you to my house!" He took her there, — a big house. She slept there. The penis (of this person) began to grow. She said, "It seems, however, that I am a woman." Thus she said (to herself) in her innermost (thoughts). Just then the Zenith said, "This happened to you because you married among the Polar Bears. Go home!"

 The spear that had become a needle-case again became a spear. The Zenith p. 118 said, "Let Spider-Woman lower you down." She attached him to a thread, and said, "Close your eyes!" Then she said, "On the way there is a dark house. As soon as you feel thirsty, feel around with your palms, (and) you will find some berries. With these you may quench your thirst (literally, 'there you drink'). When you have finished with that, there will appear a small bright spot. You must go toward it."

 He reached it and went through, and it was this world of ours. He departed, and came to a people that were mice. "Oh, a guest!" — "Yes!" — "Oh, well, enough! To-morrow our people will prepare a thanksgiving ceremonial. One man is not well. You must stay over night." He staid there over night (as he thought) but it was a whole year. He took part in their ceremonial. Oh, he became a (great) shaman. (They were suffering of) a throat (disease). The mice were dying. It was only a snare spread by human children for mice, which tightened so on the throat of the mice that they were strangled.

 "We will give you afterwards some thin reindeer-skin in payment, as soon as this one is cured. Also, of beings farther on, every kind [of those beings] shall be informed about you."

 He snapped (the noose in two). "Eġeġeġeġei´!" (The patient) breathed again. (They gave him) thin reindeer-skins in payment. He departed. On the way, as soon as he looked at those reindeer-skins, they were only leaves and grass.

 Again he travelled on, and he saw p. 119 a Hairy Maggot. (The Maggot) said to him, "Oh, oh! a guest?" — "Yes!" — "Oh, there! the mischievous beings are about to wrong you again!" — "Ah, ah!" — "Just assume my body. On the way there is an ermine, very active one. You must assume my body. Then let him catch you. You must fall on your back [fall down]. Put your many legs close (around him! With these) you shall kill him. Then come out, and your house will be visible quite near by." That is all.

Told by Qo´tirġịn, a Maritime Chukchee man, in the village of Mị´s·qạn, November, 1900.



p. 112

1 A part of the marriage ritual (Cf. Vol. VII of this series, p. 594).

p. 113

1 A monster in the shape of a polar hear of gigantic size (cf. Vol. VII, p. 324).

p. 117

1 Pillars of stone, which are often found in the mountains of this country, are considered by the Chukchee to be petrified men, reindeer, horses, etc. (cf. Vol. VII of this series, p. 285).